Lisa Mantchev: The Right to Choose
The Theatre Illuminata books by Lisa Mantchev are among my favorite young adult books. This trilogy follows Beatrice Shakespeare Smith – aka Bertie – and her adventures with the characters of various plays, who all live together in a magical theater where the phrase “all the world’s a stage” is taken literally.
What I love so much about these books is the vivid and enchanting imagery. The author has such a unique way of describing the world of her characters – more than any other novels I’ve read, I can visualize the story happening as I read it. And not only are the descriptions one-of-a-kind, but the ideas she weaves into her stories – enchanted words, taking a “mask” off your face to give to another, being able to survive drowning as an inherited trait, actors who are in fact the characters they play, a magical book that binds them to their theater, the many levels of symbolism between the real and the fantasy – truly capture your imagination.
My (perhaps only) objection to the series was the ending of the love subplot. Bertie really didn’t get to choose between Nate and Ariel – the choice was made for her. This is not to say that destiny does not have a role in such stories (see my blog on fate for details). God often has plans for us that we do not expect, and sometimes half the battle is coming to accept that. But Bertie seemed to choose Nate purely out of default, not out of affection; he was the one who was left, not necessarily the better choice.
And I’m not a fan of stories with “multiple choice” endings or no clear-cut correct answer. I know we don’t always see it in our own lives, but I want my stories to showcase how God’s plan is always at work. Ultimately, there are no accidents or coincidences – everything happens as it was originally planned to happen, and so much the better when the justice is complete and everyone gets exactly as they deserve (or at least what we’d like them to have). In my novel, Emer’s “choice” was predetermined long before she ever met Jesse, yet by the time she realized it, she had come to embrace her destiny of her own free will. And there is a sense of satisfaction in knowing that after centuries of waiting, Jesse finally got the happy ending we all want him to have.
I do, however, strive for vivid imagery when I can… Mine may never have quite the “enchanting” quality I see in Lisa Mantchev’s books, but I do hope that on some level, you can visualize the story as it happens, and that what you see in your mind’s eye entices you to read more ?.
What do you think? Share your thoughts in the comments section!
Until the next time, keep reading!
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I have two passions: reading and writing. You can't write good stories without first reading good stories - that's my theory, anyway. So this is where I'll share with you the depth of those passions: background on what and why I write, as well as talking about the books that I read and how they impact my writing.